Slowly, slowly …

Twenty or so years ago, during my first stay in Chengdu, I and three friends sat in on a Chinese landscape painting (shanshuihua 山水画) class at the university where we taught English. The teacher’s method was to paint a scene at the front of the class, discussing what he was doing as he did it, while we all attempted to copy it. When he had finished, he would walk around the room looking at everyone’s work and making suggestions for its improvement. Until he reached me. Then he would look at my painting, chuckle deep in his throat, pat me on the shoulder, and, saying “Slowly, slowly …,” walk on to the next student. Continue reading

Child on the Train

A little girl in a pink cardigan, no more than four, was running up and down the hallway. Each time she passed their compartment she slowed down and craned her head sideways to look inside. She had done this three times already, and showed no sign of losing interest. He couldn’t help but laugh as she careened past a fourth time and made a screeching halt to flash them a peace sign. Continue reading

The Slightly New Incarnation of this Blog

If you check the top of the page, you’ll see that I’ve made a slight change in the sub-title of this blog. It is now “Ten Thousand Li: A Journal of Travel, Exploration, and Art.” As I explain on the updated “About this Blog’ page, I’m really just acknowledging what I’ve been doing here for some time, but often acknowledging what you’re really up to is an important way of moving forward with what you really want to do.

In that spirit, I’m going to be uploading some snippets of writing I’ve done lately. Short short stories (a.k.a. flash fiction), brief scenes, and more poetry of course. I also hope to continue sharing work by my artistic friends and relatives. I hope you will all enjoy this slightly new and a trifle more self-aware incarnation of the blog.

Stephen

Music of the Spirit–Happy Riḍván!

Today is the first day of the holiest of all Bahá’í festivals, Riḍván (usually pronounced as it is in Farsi: rihz-vahn). The name means “Paradise” and was the name Bahá’u’lláh, the Messenger of God for this day whose teaching formed the Bahá’í Faith, gave to the garden just outside of Baghdad where he formally announced his Mission to his family and closest followers. The twelve days of Riḍván commemorate the twelve days Bahá’u’lláh spent in that garden.

The writings of the Bahá’í Faith speak highly of the power of the arts. When used properly they can uplift the soul, ennoble the spirit, and serve as a great force of attraction drawing humanity together. Continue reading